Tuff Trays, you may have seen posts about them bouncing around on the internet especially on Pinterest. Basically its a mixing tray (the sort that a builder would use) that pre-school teachers and parents alike are using to aid messy sensory play for there kids. Tuff Trays are literally a genius idea, something with the possibility to keep the kids entertained for a bit with all the mess (hopefully)contained inside the tray.
I had been undecided for a while whether to get a Tuff Tray for the boys, I always struggled with finding activities that both lads could do with the age gap we have (Max is 3 and Kai is 19 Months), at around £42.00 for the tray with the stand, it was something I had to convince Danny to buy. We bought our Tuff Tray here, we opted for the stand to raise the tray off the ground, the great thing with the stand is that it has 3 height levels so the boys will still be able to play as they grow.
The option is available to purchase the tray with or without the stand they sell the trays in BnQ for around £18.00 and I think I saw the tray and stand on eBay for a few quid less than on Amazon.
I found myself engrossed in Pinterest, researching all the exciting ideas for planning Tuff Tray afternoons, none of which I actually got around to bringing to fruition. The boys seemed more interested in just sitting and using the table to play with there trains and cars, lovely for them but not really the original intention.
Here are three examples of Tuff tray play using stuff we already had at home:
Max received quite a large amount of Duplo for Christmas and his birthday, and while I love the brand and think its create for little hands and minds I don’t love the mess. I’m talking Dulpo EVERYWHERE, I was finding bits of Duplo for days after he had played with it and hated the fact it just took over basically my entire living room.
I’m a bit lazy and just dumped the Duplo in the tuff tray and let the boys go to town. Max, in particular, played with it for ages and only a few bricks made their way to the floor. If your feeling creative you could set different tasks, like sorting colours into its matching coloured cups or if your child is a little older maybe set challenges, the Duplo facebook page has so many ideas on different ways to use the bricks for an educational but fun activity.
This idea is stolen from another crafts site I saw earlier this week. Such a simple and very cheap way to keep the kids entertained. Turning the Tuff Tray into a blackboard! We took the board of the stand and allowed Max to draw whatever he wanted. He was very keen on me joining in, we drew a beach scene, we investigated different ways of using the chalk to create different looking textures on the board.
Chalk is such a cheap resource, I picked some up from Asda for £1.50. This is something that would work really well outside once the weather picks up.
We seem to have accumulated a rather large amount of plastic disposable straws over these past few years. We stopped using them for drinking because frankly, they are not very eco-friendly, what with over 8 million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year it has become an epidemic for our seas and the marine life that exist in it. I kept the straws, I put them in a pencil case on the top of my units just waiting for inspiration to strike.
We had come home after dropping Max off at nursery and Kai had asked for Baby Bum for the 15th time when I spied the pencil case of straws on top of the unit. I lay them on the tuff tray and gave Kai a metal colander and a metal utensils holder, I showed him how to poke the straws through the holes. Bless him he needs a little practice but he had so much fun sticking the straws through the holes. Max also joined in when we picked him up, its always great to find simple ideas they can play together. The downside to this activity was that I was picking up random straws for most of the afternoon, but for a bit of peace and quiet, it was more than worth it.
On the whole, we are loving the Tuff Tray and whilst yes it does take up quite a lot of room (not a problem once the bad weather passes) I think this is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.